Wednesday, December 26, 2012

At the End of the Day

Struggling to determine which is more inspiring: a pleasant and quiet Christmas surrounded by friends and family or a gory and depressing three hours of Les Miserables. Both were entertaining and, admittedly, predictable. But only one involved murder, betrayal and revolution. So I guess Les Mis was better. Then again, Russell Crowe's singing voice (or lack thereof) nearly ruined the movie.   So… Christmas wins.

Have had some time to think and read since classes ended last week, and have decided that to write better - or more creatively, meaningfully, [insert another adverb here] - I should broaden my reading horizons. So instead of reverting to 19th century English literature when I can't think of any other delicious novels to feast on, I'll try modern American lit or a magazine that isn't the New Yorker. Will read more non-fiction (though only while reading fiction simultaneously. How can anyone go on without some tragic hero to worry about?) or something Russian or post-colonialist or whatever. If nothing else, maybe I'll find a new favorite author. Have just started reading A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. So far, so good.

Speaking of favorite authors… a few photos below from the Dickens exhibit at the NY Public Library.

Chinese edition of David Copperfield. When CD's works began to be translated abroad, he was criticized internationally for some of his politically incorrect and racially and religiously offensive characters (such as "Fagin the Jew.") A highly sensitive author, Dickens ensured that in subsequent novels he corrected for any offenses he might have caused. Hence "the gentle Jew" of Our Mutual Friend. 

An illustration for a later edition of David Copperfield (published 1849). Dickens was highly influenced by the artist Hogarth, who depicted scenes of the working class where the details of the background (settings that spoke volumes about societal norms and hypocrisies) were as important as the characters in the foreground. However, by the middle of Dickens's career, the impropriety of Hogarth's drawings were no longer considered appropriate and more proper and innocuous illustrations (such as this one) became fashionable. 

Doesn't every kid want a Charles Dickens action figure? The pen is mightier than the sword, eh?

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